Swiss tennis star Roger Federer has beaten Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 in a nail-biting match to win a record sixth title at the World Tour Finals in London.This content was published on November 28, 2011 - 08:12
After a year that saw some uncharacteristic slip-ups from Federer in big matches, the former number one shrugged off a second-set comeback from the Frenchman to put his name on yet another page of the history books.
“I know it’s one of my greatest accomplishments,” Federer said about his latest record. “This definitely is an amazing finish again to the season. I’ve never finished so strong.”
Or so rich – he pocketed $1.63 million (SFr1.5 million) and 1,500 ATP ranking points, meaning he has returned to number three in the world, overtaking Andy Murray, but still behind Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
Federer, 30, was by far the most impressive player the whole week at the season-ending event for the top eight players in the world, where his three group-stage victories included his most comprehensive win ever over Nadal, beating the Spaniard 6-3, 6-0 on Tuesday.
It was the third Sunday in a row that featured a meeting between Federer and Tsonga, who became the first player to rally from a two-set deficit to beat the Swiss in a Grand Slam tournament in this year’s Wimbledon quarterfinals.
The third win proved the hardest for Federer. He looked headed for a fairly routine victory after breaking for a 3-2 lead in the second set, hitting a forehand return winner on the line. But he faltered when serving at 5-4, going down 0-40 before Tsonga converted his third breakpoint with a volley winner.
In the tiebreak, Federer led 5-2 and then held a match point at 6-5, but Tsonga saved it with a forehand winner before ripping a scorching forehand return on his first set point to level the match at 1-1.
Playing in his 100th career final, Federer broke for a 5-3 lead in the decider and served out the match to love, sealing his 70th career title with an easy volley.
“I think that was the difference to other matches this year, where I lost so closely,” Federer said.
“This time around I was still able to find a way through. I think that was the difference at times during the year, which didn’t maybe make this an absolutely phenomenal year.”
Federer finished the season without a grand slam title for the first time since 2002, after also wasting a two-set lead against Djokovic in the US Open semifinals, where the top-ranked Serb saved two match points in the fifth set.
Federer took a six-week break shortly after that – in part, he said, to sort out his head after those losses to Tsonga and Djokovic.
“I feel when it happens maybe that often, I do have to question myself that maybe I did something wrong,” Federer said.
“I don’t want to underestimate or overestimate the mental part of the game, but there is a lot of time that goes by out on tour, during a match, you’re just trying to stay positive. But you can’t always be positive out there. You know, it’s just too difficult. That’s where maybe the doubts were just a bit too strong during certain important moments.”
The break seems to have worked, as Federer is undefeated since that US Open loss, and finished the year with a 17-match winning streak following titles in Basel and Paris before coming to London.
While Nadal and Djokovic both lost twice to be eliminated in the group stage, Federer played some of his best tennis of the year and beat David Ferrer in the semifinals without facing a break point.
“He’s the best player indoors for the moment,” Tsonga said. “He’s maybe the best player ever, because he’s really quick. He’s playing well. That’s it.”
Federer’s victory means he surpassed Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras, who both won five titles at the season-ending event, previously known as the Masters Cup.
“I still don’t feel like I’m better than Pete Sampras, or Lendl for that matter,” Federer said. “I still believe they are [two] of the all-time greats to play the game. I’m just happy to be compared to them.”
Swiss newspapers were equally happy.
“Great tennis, great victor,” was the headline in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung.
“Once again Federer has left the critics eating their words,” said the Tages-Anzeiger in Zurich.
“Despite the setbacks which came in the form of close defeats, he has notched up a respectable balance for the season, with 64 wins to 12 losses. He’s shown again what an extraordinary athlete and champion he is.”
It added: “With his golden November he’s underlined that he can legitimately have high demands and isn’t being delusional to think further triumphs and a return to number one are possible.”
World Tour Finals
The World Tour Finals, which were held at the O2 stadium in London from November 20-27, bring together the eight best players in the world.
This year these were: Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Mardy Fish. Janko Tipsarevic replaced an injured Murray.
The eight players are divided into two groups of four, and play three matches each against the other three players in their group. From there, the two players with the best records in each group progress to the semifinals, with the winners meeting in the final.
Winners are awarded up to 1500 rankings points, not to mention part of prize money totalling $4,450,000 (SFr4,015,000).
Federer has won the season-ending tournament a record six times: in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2010, 2011. Djokovic won it in 2008. Nadal has never won it.End of insertion
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